A federally funded program within Multnomah County’s health department is laser-focused on reducing health disparities between Black and white Portlanders. Among their offerings is a ‘Black Transportation Academy,’ a workshop that aims to get more of the county’s African-American and African immigrant/refugee populations involved in local and regional planning.
Instead of asking for feedback once transportation policies and projects are half-baked, the county wants more Black Portlanders involved in the cooking.
The Multnomah County Racial and Ethnic Approaches to Community Health (REACH) program (which receives funding from the U.S. Center for Disease Control), has three main focus areas: “community-clinical linkages”, nutrition, and physical activity.
According to REACH their physical activity strategy, “focuses on how the built environment promotes physical activity in a safe way.” The built environment refers things like bike lanes and sidewalks (physical infrastructure that encourages active mobility) and things like street lights which make them easier, safer, and more likely to be used. You might have seen the story in The Oregonian last week about REACH’s partnership with the City of Portland to “prescribe” Biketown bikes to Black Portlanders with chronic diseases.
The county’s strategy with the transportation academy is to not just teach people about how transportation policy and projects are linked to physical activity, but to get them actively involved in influencing the plans that create our built environment. “This transportation workshop will provide tools so the Black community can be strategically involved with plans for Greater Portland,” reads a description of the workshop. “While building awareness of how transportation development influences communities’ health outcomes through the built environment.”
Multnomah County REACH Director Charlene McGee is also scheduled to present a seminar hosted by the Portland State University Transportation Research and Education Center (TREC) on the intersection of race, safety and transportation on November 6th. That event is part of the Friday Transportation Seminar series sponsored by TREC. Other upcoming presentations include: mobility and traffic data analysis on tribal and disadvantaged communities; a presentation on “equitable transportation” by ODOT’s Assistant Director of Social Equity, Oregon Department of Transportation Nikrotris Perkins; and a look at racial disparities in traffic enforcement. See the entire slate of TREC seminars here.
The Black Transportation Academy workshop is this Wednesday, October 21st. Participation is limited to 30 people and you must fill out this form by tomorrow (Tuesday, 10/20) if you’d like to attend. All participants will be compensated for their time.
— Jonathan Maus: (503) 706-8804, @jonathan_maus on Twitter and email@example.com
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